To the Editor: In their careful exploratory
study, Dr Fukuda and colleagues1 conclude
that the chronic multisymptom condition of deployed veterans "was not associated
with specific [Gulf War] exposures and also affected nondeployed personnel."
While some experts may feel that stress explains the veterans' illnesses,
there is another possibility.
Investigators from more than a dozen countries have described exposure-induced
loss of tolerance among numerous groups, including radiology workers exposed
to x-ray developing solutions, Environmental Protection Agency employees exposed
in a sick building episode, homeowners in Germany exposed to pentachlorophenol
wood preservative, sheep dippers in the United Kingdom exposed to organophosphate
pesticides, and Lake Tahoe casino workers exposed to solvents and pesticides.2 A subset of those exposed subsequently have reported
that common chemicals, foods, and drugs trigger multisystem symptoms.